Vortex Competition

The schwag bag at last, last weekend’s FITC Toronto event had a pamphlet reminding me of the previously linked Vortex game competition. It was special. A simple two sided white piece of paper with black text, folded, amongst a sea of glossy pamphlets, art heavy calendars, illuminating yo-yos and free sample DVDs. The bad grammar and the incorrect spelling of the competition’s URL made it extra quaint. Perhaps too quaint.

There was a brief consideration to join. The appeal, mostly, was that it was a competition accepting pitches for games and not actual working games. This allows for more ambition in the design since it permits one to think beyond the scope of their ability. Also, it means less work. It is a competition for lazy game designers; it immediately struck my fancy.

But something about it just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s ownership. Vortex’s Terms and Conditions point out that the organizers do not claim any intellectual, copyright or moral rights on the submitted proposals. That’s good! But it’s a competition for ideas and once an idea is out there, it’s out there and beyond your control. Or maybe it’s the voting criteria.

It admirably stresses originality and innovation in game design, but it follows it up with questions on marketability, on “market strategy”, on “business plans” and “audience analysis” and all that shit. That’s all well and good, but that has absolutely no impact on the merits of a game. Vortex isn’t a game design competition, but a game design pitch competition. It can freely choose to be that, but to me that just isn’t as fun and not worth the effort.

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